Friday, March 25, 2016

- Submitted by Cindy Leavitt

Several people have asked me why I started writing this blog. The short answer is that it is a small way that I can help develop virtuous organizations and leaders, which is my ultimate personal purpose. I cannot do this unless I am working on myself to be a virtuous leader. This blog is one way that I recenter myself each week and, hopefully, do it in a way that is helpful to others.

The last year has been a transitional one for me as a leader. I spent a lot of time studying leadership and organizational effectiveness. One of the recurring themes is around stories and how they affect our effectiveness. Our stories actually create our reality and how we feel about the world.

Last May, I had the opportunity to hear the Co-Founder the Human Performance Institute speak and the message really energized me. Jim Loehr talked about managing energy, not just time, as the key to excellence.

Jim’s research and practical experience have found that individuals excel when they focus on the physical and spiritual dimensions of energy. Physical energy is tied to fitness, nutrition and sleep. Spiritual is tied being aligned to purpose.

It takes a lot energy to be fully focused and engaged. I really loved his definition of full engagement as “the acquired ability to intentionally invest your FULL and BEST energy, right HERE, right NOW.”

We are constantly telling ourselves stories that shape how we feel. The stories he shared from the top business leaders in the country who lived in fear of failure and needing to pretend to have it all together resonated with me. I could relate.

I knew what kind of leader that I wanted to be, but it was clear that my stories and many of my habits were not consistent with my ultimate mission.

Jim described the process that they use in their program, having the participants truthfully look at what has been getting their best energy and their stories.  He described it as hard and soul-searching, but critical to high performance and to being joyful.  Below is a diagram of how individuals and organizations can move from defining purpose to using their energy to establish habits that help them achieve their purpose.

After hearing this talk, I assessed what I was doing as an individual and as a leader and where I was spending my energy. Many of my stories were around not being good enough and having to constantly prove myself. I viewed myself as a failure in some parts of my life because I felt that I wasn’t good enough to make things perfect. I found that I was in constant competition with others and spent lots of energy harshly judging myself, and others, instead of being supportive and collaborative. I was worried about looking bad. It was a stressful way to live and it continues to be painful and humbling to be honest with myself. I am viewing this a a journey, not a destination.

I am now choosing to live differently. I want to be generous and kind and supportive and brave and vulnerable. I want to see others thrive around me and to create a safe environment where that can happen. I have learned a lot of lessons along the way.

These weekly blogs are a habit that I am trying to establish that will increase my energy and focus on my ultimate mission. I am finding tremendous joy in sharing my stories and experiences and hope that they are beneficial to you as well.

My challenge to you this week is to honestly assess if you are spending your energy and attention on your ultimate purpose. Who do you want to BE?


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